IT Services


File encryption

If you need to share person identifying data or confidential information outside of SharePoint or shared network drives, you must encrypt the file before sending it.

If you are storing person identifying data or confidential information on a device which isn’t encrypted, the file must be encrypted.

There are three recommended options for encrypting files:

  1. Microsoft Office
  2. Adobe Acrobat Pro
  3. 7-Zip

Other applications may be able to generate and encrypt files, but these have not been robustly tested and cannot be recommended. For example PDF-Xchange must not be used to encrypt documents as they can be opened without a password on devices with Apple operating systems.

Remember that sensitive data to be sent by email must be put in an encrypted attachment and the password conveyed to the recipient by a different route i.e. not by email.

1. Microsoft Office

If you are using Microsoft Office 2007 or later, please use the following instructions to encrypt files.

Sometimes it’s easier to copy and paste other file types into an Office document and use Office encryption, rather than use other encryption software which the recipient may not have access to.

2. Adobe Acrobat Pro

If you regularly use PDF documents Adobe Acrobat Pro has an option to encrypt files, as well as combine multiple pdf documents in one file. For more information about purchasing and downloading Adobe Acrobat, please visit the Electronic Software Delivery section:

3. 7-Zip

All other file types, including earlier versions of Office must be encrypted using 7-Zip. If the file is being shared with someone, the recipient will also need 7-Zip to decrypt the document.

Once the file has been decrypted it is no longer secure and will need to be encrypted again before saving.

Once a file is encrypted the data is irretrievable without the correct password, so it’s important to keep an unencrypted copy on a secure University network drive.

Set of old keys

File encryption